Puma made a robotic shoebox to help runners train

While it looks like little more than a shoebox with RC car wheels attached, Puma's BeatBot is a robot designed to help professional runners. The device was co-developed by the J. Walter Thompson ad agency, a robotics engineer, and three MIT students. It's self-driving, features a row of LED lights, two GoPro cameras, and is designed to look like, well, a Puma shoebox.

The BeatBot is more than a marketing gimmick, however. It's outfitted with sensors that allow it to perfecting trace a line on a running track. Its purpose is help runners improve by giving them a physical object to compete against, rather than just an invisible clock.

Puma's ad agency noted that competing against another person or thing has been found to help runners improve their performance. The robot needs to be fast, however, to help professional athlete, which is why it's capable of even meeting Usain Bolt's 2009 world record of 44.6 km/h (27.7 mph).

BeatBot can be used to train for short and fast sprints, or long-distance runs. The LED lights keep the rolling box visible when it gets ahead, while the GoPro cameras record footage that can be used for review later. A mobile app is used to enter the run distance and desired time to beat, with Puma noting the bot can be used to beat personal bests or train against rivals.

Unfortunately, Puma won't be making the BeatBot available to consumers anytime soon. They won't specify exactly how much it costs, but it is expensive, which is why it's only being given to athletes sponsored by the shoe company.

SOURCE Fast Company